I am Gergõ Gilicze, a graphic designer from Budapest, Hungary. Rumsmuggler was my master’s degree project for the graphic design course at the University of West Hungary. My idea was to design a game completely from the rules to a playable prototype. I wanted to mix my favorite things into a game: ships, maps, quests and old towns. The easiest way for me was to make up an entirely new game instead of redesigning one.
During the design project, computer games from my childhood inspired me to find the right mood for the game. I love the Monkey Island series, and I wanted to adapt its humorous gameplay into Rumsmuggler. Also pirates, maps and the small ships featuring in it were a great inspiration to me. In the future I would like to publish Rumsmuggler, but although the rules are complete and the game was tested multiple times, it still needs more refinement before it can be released.
In Rumsmuggler a bunch of watchful scamps try to smuggle rum into the royal ports, while the duty of the King’s honorable coastguards is to seize their illegal cargoes. In the meantime the scamps try to avoid the threats of the sea, monsters, reefs, ghost ships and the most dangerous of all: drunkenness.
Since I am a graphic designer, and my supervisor was Márton Juhász, an excellent typographer and packaging designer, I focused on the graphics and materials. Various materials were used: canvas for the board to make it look like an original map that you can scroll, wood for the ships with different coloring (e.g. the purple wood is amaranth), jute bags to contain small pieces and wood again for the rum barrels.
The game has a colorful box, with a huge rum loving octopus on the front. The game title can be seen on three sides so it can be identified easily even when only the smallest side is visible on a shelf at the shop, or at home. On the three other sides there is information about the number of players, the required game time and age range. Under the top cover there is an island with animals on its sides. The box contains the scrolled map, three bags for small pieces, seven player boards and the rulebook.
The graphics on the board are made in the style of old maps, as it shows the islands, mountains and cities from a bird’s eye view. There are monsters and ships in the sea, there’s a coat of arms and a fancy spot for important writings, and animals are hiding in the deep jungle. All those animals come from the Central American wilderness and you can learn more about the flora and fauna of the islands. Also, there are creatures in the water: sea cows, fish and whales.
The islands are connected to each other with routes. At first they were straight lines, but then I decided to make them curved, inspired by the sea currents and magnetic curves of the Earth. This way they became more dynamic.
The map is printed directly onto canvas. I chose this material for two reasons: it could be a real pirate map and it easily fits in a small box. The final size of the canvas is 41×55 cm.
There are ten harbors on the board. Each one has a unique symbol or a coat of arms. The buildings were inspired by half-timbered houses from the 17th century. The royal towns are surrounded by high walls, they are rich, and huge ships anchor there. Among the towns ruled by pirates there are rich ones and poor ones as well. They are built on the ruins of former wealthy settlements, and usually are much smaller than the towns of the King.
The size of the cards is 6×8cm. On their backs there are the same wind roses as on the map, indicating the places where players should put them during the game. There are three types of cards: the fortune, the smuggler and the secret cards.
– The fortune cards have different effects on your speed or on your precious cargo, the rum.
– The smuggler cards influence the gameplay with restrictions or treats. Everybody is affected by a smuggler card. It has to be put in the red and yellow border on the map, so every player can see it.
– The secret card is for the player who drew it, it is a secret until the player decides to use it.
Every player has a laser-cut board that belongs to their ship. They can collect their rum barrels on it. There are three types, the King’s ship boards, the pirate ship boards, and one for the Flying Dutchman. Ships can be seen on all of them.
Ships were made in three forms, a lugger for pirates, a cutter for coastguards and a 17th century Dutch merchant ship (a flute) for the Flying Dutchman. 3D models were designed in Blender and then cut by a CNC machine into variously colored pieces of wood (the purple ship is made of amaranth). The barrels and the dice were made of wood as well.